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First Pay It Forward Prototype Machining Project

Inside Our First Pay It Forward Prototype Machining Project: The Making of a Guitar Mold

You can’t take your product idea to market without it

Investors need to see it before they’ll financially back you.

But not every small business owner or philanthropist has the time and money it takes to build it

What is it? A prototype model.

KAD’s Pay It Forward Prototype Program (PIFPP) helps innovators bring their ideas to life with free CNC machining services. To qualify, you must have a product that benefits underserved, vulnerable, and special needs populations or supports other good causes such as environmental sustainability. 

Our first project met this requirement. 

The Concept: An Environmentally Friendly, Durable Guitar 

Jay Burstein submitted his PIFPP application on behalf of his business, BugOut Guitars

Jay’s product idea was born during a backpacking trip in South America. He used his acoustic guitar to connect with the locals but soon realized the journey was taking a toll on his instrument.

“I remember thinking, ‘they can put a man on the moon but can’t make a guitar suited for adventure travel,’” he said.

Jay set out to make an environmentally friendly guitar that sounded great and held up on the road, using hemp as the primary material for his BugOut Guitars.

He created a homemade mold to produce the guitars, but the piece had some problems. First, the imprecise mold forced him to make adjustments by hand, which slowed his production. Second, his resin-to-fiber ratios were either too heavy or too light.

Jay tried to save money to get a professional mold made via CNC machining services. But other expenses—such as home repairs and a child going to college in the near future—prevented him from building up enough cash. So he applied for KAD’s Pay It Forward Prototype Program. 

KAD Selects BugOut Guitars for Our Free Prototype Program

KAD was thrilled to select Jay and his BugOut Guitars for our first Pay It Forward Prototype Program project! We liked his submission and appreciated the goal he was trying to achieve with BugOut Guitars.

“Jay was eloquent in his writing. And it’s a good cause for the use of atypical materials in manufacturing small travel guitars,” said Brian Kippen, owner and founder of KAD.

Jay’s project qualified for PIFPP because of its sustainability element. Guitar makers currently face environmental challenges using traditional tonewoods. Activists are working to protect species like rosewood, a popular tonewood used to build the instrument. Using hemp fibers instead of wood helps to save these trees.

Our Approach to This Unique Prototype Machining Project 

After KAD selected Jay’s project, we made plans to build the mold from his engineer’s design. We discussed how much it would cost and how long it would take to complete. Jay paid about $5,200 for materials, and we agreed to work the project into our schedule when possible.  

KAD’s machinists spent around 130 hours on our vertical 3-axis mill (VM6) to create the 230-pound aluminum mold. Since we didn’t charge Jay for our CNC machining services, he saved about $13,000. Jay picked up the mold when the team finished the project and was delighted with the result.

All in all, it was a highly successful first PIFPP project, and we can’t wait for the next one! 

Do You Have a Pay It Forward Prototype Machining Project?

Do you have a product idea that meets our PIFPP qualifications? If so, we invite you to apply here.

Please provide a fully executed design, including 3D models and 2D drawings [link to For a Faster Precision Machining Quote, Provide a 3D Model with Your 2D Drawing]. These details help us understand the time and effort you’ve already invested in the project.

Get in touch if you have questions. We look forward to hearing from you!